The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has charged that government should stop threatening labour leaders with arrests over the industrial crisis in the health sector because it is responsible for the strike that has since led to the dismissals of more than 200 nurses.
ZCTU president Leonard Hikaukmba has said accusations of subversion and threats of arrests against labour leaders would not resolve the industrial crisis that had hit the health sector following the dismissal of more than 200 nurses by the Patriotic Front (PF) government.
Hikaumba told the Daily Nation that government had triggered the second strike by nurses with its promises and should therefore take the blame rather than accuse trade unions of inciting the workers to go on strike.
Minister of Labour and Social Services Fackson Shamenda has accused ZCTU secretary general Roy Mwaba of inciting nurses to go on strike and has warned that the labour leader could be arrested if he continued with his acts of subversion.
But Hikaumba said it was wrong for the PF government to begin to branding the labour movement as an enemy of the Government because trade unions existed to assist government to make the correct decisions on matters that involved the welfare of the citizens.
Hikaumba said ZTCU would soon be releasing a comprehensive statement on the threats and accusations by Shamenda that the leaders of trade unions would be arrested for allegedly inciting nurses to go on strike.
He said while ZCTU was ready to negotiate with government over the crisis in the Ministry of Health, to was important for Shamemnda to know that threats of arrests were nothing more than an act of intimidation against the nurses and the labour movement.
Hikaumba said there were pronouncements and promisses that the PF government had comitted itself to but which they had not and this had caused the strike stating that it was politically unacceptable for Shamenda to claim that the unions and some opposition political leaders had instigated the work stoppage by the nurses.
He said the health sector was in a sjambolic state and has called the government to exercise a general amnesty on the nurses so that the y could all be reinstated unconditionally.
Hikaumba said ZCTU was still calling for dialogue with government on the crisis the health sector because the drastic decision taken by government had far fetching consequences both on the part of government and the general citizenry.